Flamingo Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)

Also known as Painter's Palette, Tailflower, and Laceleaf, you may be surprised to learn that it's not a flower at all!

Most people who bring this plant home are attracted to the shiny, red “flowers” that are so waxy they look almost fake. These aren’t flowers at all, though – they’re actually called spathes, which are a special type of leaf that are designed by nature to attract pollinators.

The whole plant is toxic if handled directly or eaten; It contains calcium crystals and chemicals that cause major irritation, so gloves should be worn when trimming or potting this tropical plant. It goes without saying, then, that you should avoid eating the berries it can produce on its spadix (the “tail” that grows from the spathe).

Although toxic itself, this plant is also excellent at removing toxins from the air – even formaldehyde! This helpful quality earned it a place in the NASA Clean Air Study, which was a research program that aimed to find ways to clean the air in the ISS.